NEET Population Surpasses 400,000
The number of idle young people, who are neither in school nor at work, broke the 400,000 mark last year for the first time.
According to Statistics Korea Thursday, the number of the so-called NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) population, or those who are economically inactive aged between 15 and 34, was estimated at 430,000 in 2009. The number has gradually grown from 330,000 in 2004 to 399,000 in 2008.
The problem is more serious when considering that the number of people aged between 15 and 34 dropped by 7.5 percent during the period.
The NEET population, meanwhile, soared 30.3 percent. Most of them, or 85 percent, were males.
The term NEET was first coined in the United Kingdom in 1999, and has become a social and economic problem mostly in developed countries. Japan, for example, estimates it has around 640,000 NEET people.
Economists express concerns that the growing number is weighing on the economy and hurting the country's growth potential.
"The expansion of the NEET population decreases tax income for the government while increasing fiscal spending. They can deteriorate the economic health as more social welfare spending is needed if they fall into poverty," the Federation of Korean Industries warned in a report.
It added that temporary job sharing or job creation won't solve the problem. "The government should overhaul the education system, strengthening the link between schools and vocational training."
Another statistic by the OECD shows not only that Korea has high number of NEET people, but also that many of them remain so for a long time.
According to OECD statistics for 2008, the ratio among those aged between 15 and 29 was 36.8 percent, five years after graduation, the highest figure among 13 countries surveyed. In other countries, the ratio decreased over time, but in Korea the numbers tend to remain high for years.
Some point out that the lack of decent jobs is producing this situation. According to a survey by Incruit, a job market information provider, 29.2 percent of those in their 20s defined themselves as NEET. One out of three picked the lack of decent employment opportunities as the reason why they remain idle.
Creating jobs has been one of the biggest priorities for the government. Cheong Wa Dae held a strategic meeting on employment, Thursday, where local governments determined to allocate extra funds to create over 30,000 positions.
`무위도식’ 청년 40만 돌파
무작정 놀고먹는 청년층이 크게 늘어 지난해 40만명을 넘은 것으로 나타났다.
4일 통계청과 한국은행에 따르면 취업에 실패하거나 구직을 하지 않은 비경제활동 인구 가운데 아무런 활동도 하지 않고 쉰 청년층 (15~34세)인 `니트 (NEET: Not in Education, Employment, Training)족’은 43만명으로 추산됐다.
이러한 `무위도식' 청년층은 2004년 33만명으로 30만명대에 진입한 이후 2005년 38만5천명, 2006년 39만1천명, 2007년 39만7천명, 2008년 39만9천명으로 해마다 증가했다.
전년 대비 증가폭은 2005년 5만6천명에서 2008년 3천명까지 줄었지만, 지난해 다시 3만명으로 급증했다.